FGY Art Gallery CHCH Guide Training by Keith

The Fo Guang Yuan (FGY) Art Gallery Christchurch 'Ringing True' and 'Ceremica' exhibition has attracted many Christchurch folks since its opening on the 12th August. In order to better explain the inspiration and story behind each masterpiece, the gallery's coordinators invited painter Keith Morant and sculptor Tricia Morant over on the 26th August to explain their respective pieces of work to the 9 tour guide volunteers in charge of showing visitors around the art gallery.

The volunteers asked Keith about the source of inspiration for his 'Ringing True' exhibit, how he came to be an artist, and also the details that guide him into choosing his unique style C a blend of colourful circles and lines weaving through the canvas. Keith did his best to tell the background story and journey for each drawing, and stated that he draws so as to discover what his real self looks like. Around the year 1990, whilst touring at several exhibitions in the United States, he was approached quite a few times by visitors interested to know if his art pieces were influenced by Buddhist Ch'an. Right then, Ch'an was unbeknownst to Keith, but it did spark him to be interested in the topic.

Since returning to Christchurch, he began to learn more about Ch'an through books, as well as through Ch'an meditation, something that fed his artistic inspiration. After many years of learning through applied practice, Ch'an led him to realize the importance of 'giving', and the Dharma has steadied his confidence and made his life more stable. The exhibition's pieces such as 'Origin', 'Emptiness', 'Prajna Paramita' and so on came to be as a result of his learning of Buddhist teachings. Keith's dedication to abstract art forms is also inspired by quantum science, the Milky Way galaxy, music, poetry and classical literature. Some other notable works of his includes "Aussie Song", "Endymin" and "Circumstances" series.

Later, Tricia took the group and introduced the process of sculpting to them. She described how each individual part of the sculpture is first constructed separately, and then put together piece by piece. Once the final shape is complete, it is left to dry slowly for a week, and then placed into a 1260 degrees Celsius oven to be baked twice over a period of 48 hours, at which point it will develop a new natural colour of its own. This crazy art is something she developed, taking a traditional art form and giving it a new twist, resulting in something a uniquely abstract and complimentary to its roots.

Over this two hours of descriptions, the volunteers have a greater appreciation of 70 plus year old Keith and Tricias strong passion towards life and art, as well as their dedication in pursuing the things they set out to do. It is truly a touching feat, and through this exercise, the BLIA volunteers hope that they will be better equipped to spread this positive energy to the next lot of visitors coming to view the art gallerys exhibitions.